Techniques

Coffee

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This small tree (coffea … a member of the botanical family rubiaceae and also known by many species names, including arabica and robusta) a native to Ethiopia, is now grown all over the world with major production in South and Central America. The tree bears a fruit called the coffee cherry which, when ripe and red, are picked by hand. Each cherry holds two seeds, which are called beans. The beans are removed, dried, and exported. They are blended and roasted to bring out aromatic oils and then ground and brewed to produce, of course, the second-most popular drink in the world (next to tea).

But besides the beverage, coffee is used to flavor many types of foods. Crushed or ground, these seeds can be steeped in any liquid to infuse their flavor. Try steeping beans in cream or milk for coffee custards, ices, and sauces. Grind beans to a fine powder to dust the outside of chocolate candies. Similarly, brewed coffee adds a pleasant bitterness to chocolate batters, not to mention meat dishes and a variety of savory sauces.

Coffee beans are widely available. Look for wide-eyed folks lingering with recycled paper cups and disposable income.
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